l

ladelfa's Profile

Title Last Reply

Grains of Paradise from Surfas [moved from L.A. boad]

Went to Surfa's in Culver City today expressly for the purpose of buying a jar of Grains of Paradise, because apparently they're the only place in the city that carries this spice.

Came home, opened it up, and I swear that what I'm holding in my hand is black cardamon (cardamom) seed. Not ever having had Grains of Paradise, I can't say for certain that I got ripped off here, but I feel about 95% sure now, having spent the better part of an hour looking at pictures of the two spices online.

Can anyone who's had both of them tell me how to know for certain which it is? These are little black and grey mouse-turd looking things, with little crinkles like an armadillo, and not the red-brown wrinkled popcorn-looking spheres that most of the descriptions of GoP led me to believe I'd be getting.

Alternatively, has anyone bought this recently (or ever) from Surfa's who also knows for a fact they're selling cardamon seed erroneously labeled as Grains of Paradise? It's the Surfa's house-brand, in a 6 oz. plastic screwtop jar.

Thanks.

Oct 04, 2008
ladelfa in General Topics

Fosselman's Banana Malt

I'm not a big fan of strawberry ice cream normally, but that "chocolate-dipped strawberry" they have right now at Fosselman's (essentially strawberry-chocolate-chip) is a winner. I had it paired up with a scoop of black walnut and ... wow.

May 31, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

ISO the Best LA Taco Trucks/Carts

About Ave 51, I think. Every time I've seen it, it's been parked alongside the Food 4 Less building, on that side of the street.

I should also mention that Taqueria Azteca in Glendale is similarly good, and it's always there because it's a building, not a truck. Verdugo between Colorado and Broadway, across the street from Glendale High School.

May 29, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Any Cheap & Good Eateries in the San Gabriel Valley?

I don't know what they serve at Claim Jumper (and I'm actually not ashamed of that), but I gotta tell you about two awesome ways to get stuffed for less than five bucks.

1. Bahn Mi. Vietnamese sandwiches on nine inches of baguette. There are many places to go for these. They average around $2. You probably can eat two, maybe three if you're insane.

2. Kang Kang Shao Mei. Valley Blvd east of Atlantic. Point through the glass at three things that look thrilling and they'll come at you on a large tray with a mound of rice and some soup for about four dollars. I usually end up with leftovers to go. There's a similar place on Garvey at Garfield, and probably others all over the SGV.

May 21, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Potato Taco In Highland Park, so good! "My Taco"

They're similar, actually. But Jessica's is kind of a grungy, scary place, and there's no menu; just a few hand-written signs describing various specials, one of which is the tacos de papas combo. Anything else you want, you ask the lady for; they apparently have all the usual taqueria options. The two times I've had them, they're been pretty substantial, very crunchy, and nicely dressed up (lettuce, sour cream, etc. on top). They're sort of the other end of the spectrum from El Atacor #11's.

The pupusas there were good too -- as good as any I've had -- but I can't say for sure how consistent stuff is there ... it might be one of those places where the constitution of any particular dish varies a great deal depending on who's in the kitchen that day.

God, it almost sounds like I didn't like the place. But I did. I'd go again. I wouldn't take fussy gringos there, though: I'd take them to My Taco instead.

May 21, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

ISO the Best LA Taco Trucks/Carts

TakiTaco now officially rules my veggie burrito world. They have rice and sharp, salty cheese (two things I find most taco trucks don't cart around, because who puts rice on a taco?), and then there's cilantro and onion and two awesome salsas in pump-top dispensers. Last night they stuck half of a perfectly grilled onion on the paper plate next to the burrito and I'll be damned if I've ever eaten an onion that good before. And it's like three bucks. The taco-hound guys in my string quartet gave the tacos high praise too last time we went.

May 21, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Potato Taco In Highland Park, so good! "My Taco"

Yeah, I would sure hope it's not chorizo grease -- I pick potato tacos expressly for the purpose of NOT eating pork. Annato's probably a good guess, or maybe it's just powdered New Mexico chile.

Oh yeah, we went and tried them last night. It's a very clean restaurant, and with metal (not plastic) tableware. We each had one taco dorado papa, which admittedly isn't enough to really get a good idea of how good they are ;-) There was a lot of decent guacamole on the plate next to them, and we dug the salsas from the bar. Definitely a go-back-to-and-try again place, and next time we won't stop on the way to wolf down burritos at the TakiTaco truck, which is what we did last night and dang, we were pretty full already when I said "Wanna go try 'My Taco'?"

May 21, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Potato Taco In Highland Park, so good! "My Taco"

The custom-printed calendar they hang in #11 lists two other branches that seem to belong to the same family. I noticed that the Atacor "#1" further up Figueroa, near Ave 35, was not one of the ones listed. Perhaps they were owned by the same folks at one time and split apart; the menu is fairly similar, although #1 doesn't seem to have potato tacos, if memory serves, and the giant burritos there are larger (not necessarily better) than the ones at #11.

May 15, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Potato Taco In Highland Park, so good! "My Taco"

My Taco charges $2.89 for a single potato taco? Jeez! That's crazy.

Another good place for tacos de papas is Jessica's, at 2425 Daly St. (Daly St. is what Ave. 26 turns into) in Lincoln Heights.

Oh, and make sure you ask for at least one each of the red and green sauces when you go to Actacor #11. They usually give you only one or the other, but you need alternating splashes of both to hit the real taco nirvana. And, IMO, avoid the temptation to get the 10-pack of tacos. It ruins the zen of the order-of-four, which also comes with a small baglet of chips you'll need to scrape the last smear of salsa up off the plate.

May 15, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Bulgarini Gelato has opened...

We went there in the afternoon on a Saturday about two weeks ago and had "lemon cream" and "strawberry sorbet" (those seemed to be the most compelling flavors available at the time), and, to tell you the truth, I was underwhelmed. Neither was particularly well-balanced in a sweet-vs-sour way, and neither had a memorably strong hit of the fruit to it. The too-smooth, almost unctuous texture reminded me of (surprise!) Fosselman's, and I'd rather just go to Fosselman's, where it's about half as expensive, if I'm in the mood for that type of ice cream.

Sorry, Bulgarini -- I had high expectations for you based on all the CH hype, but what I had there wasn't worth the price, especially if you factor in the time and gas it takes to drive there from where I am.

May 11, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

best Szechuan in SGV?

A few of the things we had were special-requested variations on dishes already on the menu (e.g. the crunchy fried chicken cubes with chili and onion, with battered pressed bean curd standing in for chicken). And there are several excellent vegetable dishes on the menu that we didn't order for the party (bitter melon, cabbage with chili, chinese okra).

May 01, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Alternate uses for a waffle iron?

This is tremendous. I just tried it this morning and damned if I didn't end up with a nice crunchy waffle of shredded potatoes. I used Pam, a couple russets, and skipped the salt altogether. Voila: a practically fat- and sodium-free substitute for those frozen hashbrown patties I've been hooked on for so long.

And mine is one of those pre-nonstick irons from the '70s. 3/4 of the way to the highest setting seemed to work well. As with waffles, one must resist the temptation to open the lid too soon. When it smells like toasty potatoes, then it's ready. Next time I'll pile up the shredded potato a little higher because it loses volume as the water cooks out and the weight of the iron presses down.

Apr 25, 2007
ladelfa in Cookware

best Szechuan in SGV?

A followup on RQW:

We were there last week and the large sign up on the wall over the door was missing. Dunno if this represents another pending name change, or whether it just blew down in the weather (it was one of those vinyl store name signs lashed to the building with rope, if memory serves). At any rate, this makes the place only that much harder to find, which is a shame.

We took about ten people there for a birthday dinner banquet. I won't divulge all the details, but to summarize: we had about nine dishes, all meatless (the guest of honor is vegetarian), most on-the-menu and a couple special-requested in advance. Everything was excellent -- not a dud in the bunch. About half were spicy in that brilliant, buzzy sichuan fashion, but the non-spicy dishes held their own as well. I think we must have had tofu prepared in six or seven different ways. The hot-sour soup was incredible and very unlike the style one normally encounters; the stock was thin, not cornstarch thickened, and there seemed to be lots of sesame oil happening. One of the other standouts was this braised gluten in brown sauce. It's not on the menu, but periodically they offer it as a sign-up-on-the-wall type special. Get it if they got it.

All but three of us at the table were RQW first-timers, and everybody seemed to indicate that they'd be going back, presumably to try the meat and fish dishes.

Apr 25, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

First time at Primo's doughnuts

I'll never forget the perfect buttermilk doughnut I had in Burbank. It was about 1:30 a.m. and we had just come out of Sardo's and wandered down to the doughnut place at the end of the stripmall (Poster's Doughnuts, I think it's called). Still warm inside, perfectly formed, deeply flavorful, oh so good.

Apr 19, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Have good wine, need place with no/low corkage

Girasole has free corkage. Also, the food is excellent and I believe their prices fall in the range the OP is seeking.

Apr 19, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Top Five Veggie Options in LA?

The one time I went there I waited over an hour for my food (at lunchtime on a weekday!) and it was nothing to scream about when it finally arrived.

Apr 18, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Arnold Palmer

How is this different from iced tea with lemon and sugar?

Apr 18, 2007
ladelfa in Recipes

Marco's Trattoria

Their pizza crust is awful. I think they're using all-purpose flour, one with very little gluten, or they're not working the dough at all. It just had no toothiness to it. The fact that, underneath, it was barely browned didn't help any. It reminded me of this soft thick Armenian flatbread I buy sometimes, and I'll bet you anything it's the same dough they use for their garlic-parmesan focaccia, which came to the table with a sort of tomato bruschetta salsa that was pretty decent.

What was on top (I ordered the large plain cheese) wasn't exceptionally bad or exceptionally good. Apparently their pizza comes in thin, medium, and thick-crusted varieties, and I had the medium, but assuming it's the same dough all three ways, I can't imagine the other gauges being much of an improvement. Also, I tried to imagine what it would be like if I had asked for it to be cooked more "well-done" (this is a oft-recommended solution for other places you read about on chowhound), but the shortness of the dough just didn't seem like it would get better if it got toastier, and attempts to simulate this at home on the leftover slices hasn't really done much to dissuade me.

I can't speak to the quality of the pasta dishes. My dining companion had spaghetti carbonara that came to the table kind of on the pasty side, not freely flowing as I understand it's traditionally supposed to be. But cream-sauce pasta dishes in restaurants are usually disappointing in that regard, I guess. I remember Batali or someone saying you have to serve and eat carbonara within five minutes of the pasta leaving the water or it's pointless.

The italian dressing was overly sweetened and there was too much of it, so if you get the insalata mista, I'd recommend asking for the dressing on the side.

The service was good, though, and the place was busy, so someone in WeHo must think it's all right.

Apr 04, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Vegetarian Suggestions, anyone?

I liked this place the first time I went, but the second time around everything that came to the table was overly sweet; if I went again, I would definitely ask them to hold back on the sugar.

There's a good all-vegetarian Indian place on Sunset in Silverlake/Hollywood called Paru's, and there are several in the Cerritos area if you're up to the drive. Less good but worth noting is the India Sweets and Spices vegetarian restaurant adjacent to the grocery store of the same name on Los Feliz Blvd in Atwater Village. Again (I mentioned this in another recent thread), that place is at its best if you skip the stuff in the steam trays and get cooked-to-order things off the menu.

Also, there's a vegan Thai place in Silverlake on Sunset Blvd by the Comfort Inn. I've been there a couple times. It's not the best Thai food in town, but there's something to be said for knowing for sure that you're not eating any fish-sauce or shrimp paste, which are ubiquitous, even in "vegetarian dishes," at most other restaurants.

Mar 30, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Vegetarian ramen?

Mr Ramen, in Little Tokyo, offers a vegetarian (no pork, no bonito) stock you can substitute for any noodle dish on the menu. I recommend the curry one. If you expand your horizons towards Chinese noodle dishes, Bean Sprouts Cafe in Arcadia makes a real good vegetarian "beef" noodle soup. And they make a mushroom broth for the vegetarian soups at Pho Cafe in Silverlake.

Mar 30, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Israeli-Style Falafel

Two more reports from the falafelquest:

Top Falafel, Coldwater Cyn (at Victory, I think) in North Hollywood, behind Numero Uno pizza. This was pretty decent falafel, if not quite so tasty on its own as Hungry Pocket (see above). The combo, about $6, came with hummus and eggplant ganoush, a couple pitas, assorted pickles, lettuce, tomato and about six balls of falafel. I was starving and rushed, so I wolfed it down; I'll have to go again to do a more contemplative appraisal. But it's certainly worth another visit.

Papa Joe's, Colorado Blvd in Glendale, between the mall and the on/offramp to the 5 fwy. I'd driven past this place a bunch of times and never gotten to stop until last week. Their sign touts shwarma, kabobs, and falafel, but seriously, they need to take falafel off the sign. This wasn't the absolute worst falafel I've ever had, in that it wasn't microwaved into rubbery inedibility, but it was certainly in the bottom three or four. Crumbly inside, with oil soaking into the outer quarter-inch, it tasted like it was a powered mix from a box hastily stirred up with cold water back in the kitchen right after I'd ordered. Five or six meyer-lemon-sized balls with an odd doughnutty flavor -- I choked down about three and a half of them. In fairness, the combo came with fairly decent hummus, and the little chopped cumber-tomato-dill salad the lady cobbled together was also pretty tasty. But come on, if you've got falafel in big letters on the outside of your restaurant, you need to actually make the paste ahead of time -- from scratch -- and you need to keep (or at least bring) your deep fryer up to the right temperature when someone orders it.

Mar 30, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Where to eat in Atwater Village?

India Sweets & Spices can be hit-or-miss, I've found, but I did have something truly terrific the last time I was there -- I think it was "Tikka Chana": a little cardboard boat filled with crispy fried balls of something falafelesque, plus chickpeas, yogurt and a couple other sauces. Much better than everything they have in the steam trays, and about two bucks.

Their menu is here: http://www.indiasweetsandspices.org

Mar 27, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

best Szechuan in SGV?

We asked the waitress: the chef is indeed ex- of Oriental Pearl.

Mar 27, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

The New Chung King

We've successfully ordered completely vegetarian meals there on several occasions. Having a speaker of Mandarin at the table with you may be compulsory, however, to ensure that the dishes you are getting will be made su-da / mei-yo-ro.

And bitter melon is awesome, despite what everybody else sez.

Mar 23, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Vegan Friendly Restaurants that won't make me hate my female vegan friend...

The Border Grill in Santa Monica

Mar 23, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Ethiopian Restaurant Recs...

I agree that Rahel's tends to under-salt their food. I'm trying to eat a lower-sodium diet, so this is actually a plus for me. Because of that (and also a totally cholesterol-free menu) Rahel's might be one of those places where you could eat every day without dying of congestive heart failure.

Having said all that, you should give Messob (three doors down) a shot. They don't hold back on the clarified butter, salt, or spice. Also, you can get tej there (Rahel's doesn't serve wine or beer), which makes it a good special-occasion place. It also might be the best joint on the block to take people who have never had this cuisine before; I took two such newbies to Messob last week and between the ambience and the food (and, yes, the honey wine) they were very impressed and we all left the restaurant very satisfied.

Mar 22, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Israeli-Style Falafel

Went to Hungry Pocket about a week ago. This won't satisfy you in terms of having a wide selection of salads and condiments, but I will say this: the falafels, by themselves, are very flavorful. Not as herby as I usually like, but somehow slightly tangy, well balanced in terms of salt and onion, properly cooked (not pasty or anything like that).

The guy running the joint is friendly too. He explained to us how the all-you-can-eat thing works: your first falafel sandwich is $3.45 (regular price). If you can finish that and can eat a second, third, or more, then you pay $6.25. He'll keep making them (to order) and you'll keep eatin' them. I didn't inquire whether one could forgo the lettuce and tomato and just get falafels and pita. My dining companion and I both ate only one, and then I ordered two falafel balls ala carte (50 cents each) just to evaluate in isolation.

I read above your reply about Falafel Palace (Northridge) having only "very average falafel" -- I'd be curious to hear what you think about the falafel here. But again: where Falafel Palace shines is in their assortment of salads, and there's not much of that at Hungry Pocket.

Mar 22, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Sichuan cold bean-jelly noodles (liang fen)

Love this dish. I try it at every Sichuan restaurant I go to.

Now I have a nice big roll of the noodle material. I'm trying to duplicate the oily red chili sauce that goes on it, but I'm missing the mark somehow. Red chili oil I got. I know there's a good dose of ground Sichuan peppercorn. I know there's usually something sour involved, but I can't figure out whether it's black vinegar or the plain white kind. Garlic? Maybe, but raw, or heated in the oil? Bean paste? Sesame paste? Ginger? Less sure about these.

Anybody out there know what typically goes in this and/or how it's prepared? Multiple recipes welcomed ... I'll try 'em all.

Feb 26, 2007
ladelfa in Home Cooking

No Boil Lasagna Noodles or Fresh Pasta Sheets

Actually, it turns out that any ordinary lasagna noodle will work in most of these recipes.

Feb 19, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area

Help in Highland Park!

Hope you like mexican food, otherwise you'll have to go for a drive.

The tiny El Metate (5305 N. Figueroa St, across the street from the building with the lions on top) is much beloved. I'm still pushing the potato tacos at El Atacor #11, near the corner of Ave 26 and Figueroa; apparently the burritos are good there too. Chico's, the yellow building at the corner of Ave 50 and Figueroa, is more of a sit-down place; whatever you get, order the guacamole too.

There are several places on York Ave. headed towards Eagle Rock that are decent. Huaraches Azteca is one of the better ones. There's a Thai Place around Ave 46 or so that's better than you'd expect given the location.

If you go into Eagle Rock proper, there's more diversity of choices (Cafe Beaujoulais, Blue Hen Vietnamese, a few more Thai joints, and Casa Bianca, which I hate but a lot of people luuuuuv.)

Good luck, and welcome to the 'hood.

Feb 19, 2007
ladelfa in Los Angeles Area